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[ Webmaster's Note: We've used the layout and information given in the 2nd Edition Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark sourcebook as the basis for this page, and updated and enhanced it with the information given in the more recent D&D v3.5 Underdark sourcebook. For the most part, the information between the two books did not differ greatly, save for the city's population. The newer book greatly reduced Sshamath's population, a fact which we did not incorporate as our campaign was set up around the original information. We have changed most of the class references as well when they differ between 2E and 3.5E, such as the term mage being converted to wizard. Also note that we will most likely be changing the levels and classes of named NPCs in the descriptions below to fit the epic level nature of our campaign more appropriately, and to reflect the possibilities which the concept of prestige classes has opened up. Otherwise, this is all comprised of official information...save for the addition of our home-brewed establishment, the Vengeful Weave Inn.]

Sshamath is unique among drow cities: a city ruled by wizards, where the priestesses of Lolth are shunted into lesser roles. Once a traditional city of the Spider Queen ruled by matron mothers in accordance with the Way of Lolth, Sshamath evolved into the preeminent market in all of Faerūn for enchanted artifacts, spell tomes, and other magical workings. Despite tales of artifacts and relics piled high to be sold for a relative penance, only an elite roster of surface-dwelling wizards or merchants even knows of Sshamath's general location deep beneath the Far Hills some thirty miles south of Darkhold. Even fewer have wandered amid the stalls of the fabled Dark Weavings Bazaar.
Sshamath is inhabited primarily by drow and their slaves (dwarves, goblins, orcs, magical constructs, and extraplanar summoned creatures), although small groups of emissaries from the city's numerous trading partners comprise a permanent, if rotating, minority. Occasional humans roam, whether members of the Arcane Brotherhood, Red Wizards of Thay, Halruuan merchant mages, or free-willed liches. But most visiting wizards are Underdark dwellers, including savant aboleth, beholder mages and elder orbs, drow wizards from other cities, derro savants, illithiliches, sharn sorcerers, svirfneblin illusionists and artificers, even the rare phaerimm. Spellcasters from other environments, including morkoth mages and chromatic wyrms, come here too.
Sshamath is the most cosmopolitan Underdark settlement, a well-regarded trading partner with strong ties everywhere. Residents welcome all who come to trade, regardless of race, creed, or school of thought. Well-traveled tunnels wind east through the caverns of fallen Oghrann to Sschindylryn and beyond, northeast to the Buried Realms, north and northwest to the cluster of cities in the North, west to Karsoluthiyl, southwest to Guallidurth, Malydren, Rringlor Noroth, and Sloopdilmonpolop, south to Oryndoll, Iltkazar, and Zokir, and southeast to Underspires and Undraeth any many points between.

History
The City of Dark Weavings is the product of six thousand years of history, an accident of geography, and a dose of luck. Sshamath was established in -4973 DR by the Lolth-worshiping drow of House Sshamath. For nearly two thousand years after the city's founding, the drow of Sshamath dwelt in accordance with the Way of Lolth.
The defining event in Sshamath's history was the collapse of its most precious resource: the Underdark radiation known as faerzress. Localized appearances and disappearances of faerzress are not unheard of. These unexplained fluctuations typically mean the collapse of nearby drow city-states or the establishment of new ones, as the dark elves migrate to new sources of the radiation. By -2872 DR, five years after the problem was initially detected, Sshamath's defenders were bereft of drow magic. The city was on the brink of anarchy.
Yet fad had already twisted Sshamath's future. In the three centuries before the faerzress collapse, Sshamath's matron mothers gave birth to an unusually large number of males. This imbalance led to the sizable expansion of the city's corps of skilled wizards and a decrease in the number of Lolth priestesses. Coupled with it's relative geographic isolation from hostile rivals, the abundance of wizards left Sshamath uniquely positioned to survive.
As the scope of the disaster became apparent, Sshamath's wizards initiated wave after wave of expeditions to plunder Netheril, Oghrann, and other lost realms. Lesser mages repaired or duplicated every artifact acquired, and more senior sorcerers delved into research and fabrication, initiating a burst of creative output that led to countless new magical creations and incantations. After a time, the balance of power shifted completely as the events led to a quick, bloody civil war that left all the House Matriarchs dead and the House Wizards in control.
As time continued to pass, the wizards' influence on society ushered schools of magic into prominence and the House system into irrelevance. Sshamath's Houses still exist today, but a drow's House is no more meaningful than his tailor -- perhaps noteworthy, but essentially unimportant.

Ways In and Out
Despite its role as an Underdark trading center, Sshamath is surprisingly hard to reach from the surface. While a few routes shorter than hundreds of miles connect Sshamath to the surface, the most common way to reach the city from the surface is teleportation magic, a consequence of the complete absence of faerzress near Sshamath. However, teleport requires the wizard to either visit the target location or scry it first. The first restraint is self-limiting, while the second is made difficult by the near total lack on the surface as to even the general location of the city. In addition, teleportation restricts the volume of trade goods that can be ferried into or out of the city. As a result, Sshamath has very little commerce with the Realms Above.
The most important and direct route from the surface is Varalla's Passage. Completed by the Lich Queen at the behest of the Conclave of Sshamath, this route promises to one day open the legendary markets of Sshamath to the Realms Above. Sememmon discovered Varalla's Passage in the Year of the Griffon (1312 DR), but kept it secret from all but his most trusted apprentices. Within days of the destruction of Zhentil Keep, Sememmon dispatched emissaries to negotiate a trade accord between the drow wizards of Sshamath and the Zhentarim of Darkhold. Negotiations continue slowly; Sememmon's fears tipped his hand to Manshoon, and the conservative elements of Sshamath's ruling council feared revealing themselves to hordes of surface dwellers.
Sshamath can also be reached through the tunnels of the fallen dwarven realm Oghrann. The most direct route from the surface begins within the dwarven mines of the Far Hills, and eventually winds down into the middle Underdark via a circuitous and treacherous route. This route is unlikely to ever rival Varalla's Passage, due both to the hostile shield dwarves of Oghranni descent at the beginning of the route and the small hive of beholder-kin that dominates the Gauth Grottoes (see below) along the way.

Architectures and Layout
The City of Dark Weavings has been strangely compared to the interior of a massive pumpkin. A vast central cavern, bedecked with thousands of slender stalactites, stalagmites, and columns that stretch from floor to ceiling, creates a three-dimensional web of rock navigable only by those capable of flight or levitation or by those undeterred by passage across delicate stone bridges barely the width of a drow's foot. Magically altered speleothems are packed so closely that few sight lines exist across the city. As a result, it is difficult to find a vantage point from which even a fraction of the city's artistry can be admired. Sshamath retains many traditional drow architectural elements, but with a greater emphasis on personal towers as opposed to noble families' compounds. Individual dwellings are carved into the heart of massive stalactites and stalagmites alike, every aspect of which has been transformed by Stone Shape spells into twisted spires of magical artistry. Of particular note is the fact that Sshamath is alive with the faint, flickering light of continual faerie fire spells and their sorcerous equivalents. In an unending effort to outdo one another in magical artistry, Sshamath's sorcerers have created an oasis of vibrant color to rival the most brilliant sunset. While Sshamath's inhabitants are adapted to the relatively bright ambient light, representatives of other Underdark settlements are rarely so acclimated and thus are at somewhat of a disadvantage during trade negotiations.
At the heart of Sshamath stands the great column known as Z'orr'bauth. A wide, steep ramp spirals around the outside of this great rock tower, winding past thousands of slim stone bridges that extend from Z'orr'bauth to the surrounding forest speleothems. Visitors to Sshamath are expected to arrive in the entrance cavern at the top of Z'orr'bauth and make their way into the city down the ramp. Teleporting directly into the city is officially prohibited, although secretly tolerated for well-known visitors and the city's elite. Tunnels into the city from anywhere else are blocked by wards woven millennia ago by Sshamath's most powerful wizards. Nevertheless, rumors persist of ancient, secret passageways, which were constructed before the barriers, leading into the hearts of the city's greatest towers.

Population
Sshamath is home to more than thirty-two thousand drow, and often another one thousand or so dark elves trade in the city's markets. Slaves, constructs, conjured creatures, undead, and emissaries of other races bring the total population to over one hundred thousand, although that number fluctuates significantly depending on the availability of goods in Sshamath and strife levels throughout the Realms Below.
Sshamathan society esteems the Art above all else and is ruled by a magocracy. Aside from Lolth's clergy, the populace pays only token homage to the gods. Sshamathans are both welcoming of outsiders and xenophobic. The city's culture is steeped in fear of conquest, yet Sshamath's continued existence depends on the steady flow of Underdark traders bringing in goods for its inhabitants' artifice. This conflict enables all races to visit Sshamath, even traditional drow foes, yet ensures that such visitors are only superficially welcomed and always under great, unspoken suspicion.
The slaves of Sshamath are largely resigned to their fate. In addition to the liberal use of charm magic, the conclave permits visitors to bring in small groups of their own slaves and to occasionally purchase slaves from other cities. These practices ensure that Sshamath slaves are aware that their life here is not nearly as bad as elsewhere.

  • Rulers
    Sshamath is ruled by the Conclave of Sshamath, an oligarchy composed of masters of the ten recognized schools of wizardry. The Conclave convenes only to debate issues that do not clearly fall within one individual master's area and to resolve disputes between schools of wizardry that cannot be resolved privately.
    Except in rare times of danger to the whole city, Sshamath's ruling council is a roiling mosaic of alliances. As a result, the day-to-day governance of the city is left to the absolute authority of the individual masters, according to his or her school's acknowledged spheres of influence. As one might expect, the various schools are thus engaged in a subtle, ongoing struggle to extend the authority of their representatives on the Conclave of Sshamath. For example, while interment of the dead and the healing of the injured clearly fall within the purview of the master of Necromancy, control of the sale of body parts for material components is contested by most schools.
    Only the Conclave can officially sanction new schools of wizardry, a form of recognition it is loath to grant because doing so would diminish the power of existing schools. Originally Sshamath's Conclave sanctioned only eight schools: Abjuration, Conjuration and Summoning, Divination, Enchantment and Charm, Illusion and Phantasm, Invocation and Evocation, Necromancy, and Transmutation. The first addition was the school of Mages, for wizards whose research could not be clearly assigned to any one school. In the centuries since, the school of Mages has been severely hamstrung by those who fear it could easily grow to dominate.
    The tenth and most recent addition to the Conclave is the school of Elemental Magic, a four-way factionalized institution admitted mainly to undermine the power of the growing number of elementalists and to check the increasing influence of the school of Invocation and Evocation. The masters of elemental magic had hoped to be admitted as four separate schools--Air, Earth, Fire, Water--but the Conclave's maneuvering has locked them in a power struggle within the school of Elemental Magic, thus weakening them in the Conclave.
    Proponents of other schools continue to seek sanction, but are largely stymied by the established schools. (For example, the Master of Illusion and Phantasm blocks all membership efforts by the Vhaeraun-worshipping students of shadow magic.) At present, the roster of Sshamath's ruling Conclave includes the following:
    • Master of Abjuration Masoj Dhuunyl
      (NE male drow Abj21)
    • Master of Conjuration and Summoning Urlryn Khalazza
      (CE male drow Con19)
    • Master of Divination Seldszar Elpragh
      (LE male drow Div23)
    • Master of Enchantment and Charm Malaggar Xarann
      (CE male drow Enc24)
    • Master of Illusion and Phantasm Felyndiira T'orgh
      (CE female drow Ill20)
    • Master of Invocation and Evocation Krondorl Waeglossz
      (CE male drow Inv21)
    • Master of Necromancy Tsabrak of the Blood
      (CE male drow vampire Nec18)
    • Master of Transmutation Shurdriira Helviiryn
      (CE female drow Tra22)
    • Master of Mages Guldor Zauviir
      (CE male drow M19)
    • Master of Elemental Magic Antalab of the Shaking Stones
      (NE male drow EleE18)

    The ruling structure of each school of wizardry varies according to school traditions, although each school must name a single master to represent it on the Conclave of Sshamath. Some schools replicate the city's government structure, with a ruling council selecting a master from within it's own ranks to speak for the school. Other schools are ruled by autocrats who delegate authority only when it pleases them and brook no dissent. Themes common to all such governmental structures include the relentless, intraschool struggle for supremacy in both mastery of the Art and in assembling loyal factions who seek to elevate their leader to the position of Conclave representative.

  • Defenders
    Sshamath's defenders reflect the city's unique strengths and weaknesses. Like drow settlements elsewhere, Sshamath is defended by competent patrols of drow warriors. However, typical Sshamathan patrols are led by wizards and fighter/wizards, with accompanying clergy of either sex, although the members of such companies are predominately male. All told, Sshamath's standing army includes roughly five thousand drow warriors, plus an additional one thousand fighter/wizards and five hundred wizards, although threefold that number can be mustered for war, not counting the slave races who receive some militia instruction.
    A natural consequence of the lack of faerzress in the area is the complete lack of drow quasi-enchanted armor, garments, and weapons [ for Version 3.5 purposes, this means no Drowcraft items ]. Instead, Sshamathan patrols employ true magical items, albeit in far more limited quantities, and other nonmagical weapons to great effect.
    A typical Sshamath warrior on patrol is armored in drow chain mail and a buckler and wields a steel long dagger and short sword dipped in weaponblack. Hand crossbows or darts, with bolts or tips dipped in drow sleep poison, are common. Most warriors carry one or two magical liquids and powders, including Oil of Impact, Potions of Healing, Potions of Invisibility, Potions of Underground Awareness, Powder of the Black Veil, and Powder of Coagulation. Elite warriors (4th level and higher) have a 25% chance of carrying 1d4 permanent magical items.
    For every ten warriors in a Sshamath patrol, there is a fighter/wizard of at least 3rd level in each class who serves as a sergeant. If twenty drow are encountered, then, in addition to the two sergeants, the group has a fighter/wizard captain of at least 6th level in both classes. If there are more than thirty drow, at least one-third will be single-classed wizards or fighter/wizards, and the leader will be at least a 9th level wizard with a fighter/wizard of at least 5th level in each class as an assistant.
    City patrols have similar composition, but individual drow are more likely to carry magical items capable of disarming rogue wizards, including Wands of Magic Missiles, Wands of Negation, and Scrolls of Feeblemind.
    • Typical Sshamath Soldier
      Sshamath Soldier, Male Drow - Ftr1: CR 1; Medium Humanoid (Elf); HD 1d10-1(Fighter) ; hp 9; Init +1; Spd 30; AC:17 (Flatfooted:16 Touch:11); Atk +1 base melee, +2 base ranged; +2 (1d6, Sword, short, Masterwork); +2 (1d4, Dagger, Masterwork); +3 (1d4, Crossbow, hand, Masterwork); +2 (, Tanglefoot bag); +1 (1d3, Unarmed strike); SA: Poison (Ex) , Spell-like Abilities Dancing Lights 1/day, Darkness 1/day, Faerie Fire 1/day; SQ: Immunity: Sleep Effects (Ex), Low-light Vision (Ex), +2 Saves vs. Enchantment Spells and Effects, +2 Will Saves vs. Spells and Spell-like Effects, Light Blindness (Ex), Spell Resistance (Ex): 11 + Class Level (12); AL CE; SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +0; STR 10, DEX 12, CON 8, INT 12, WIS 10, CHA 12.
      Skills: Climb -1, Handle Animal +2, Heal +1, Hide +4, Intimidate +3, Jump -1, Listen +4, Move Silently +4, Search +3, Spot +5, Survival +1, Swim -1.
      Feats: Alertness, Armor Proficiency: heavy, Armor Proficiency: light, Armor Proficiency: medium, Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Tower Shield Proficiency.
      Possessions: Hand Crossbow, Masterwork; Bolts, crossbow (10); Dagger, Masterwork; Short Sword, Masterwork; Tanglefoot bag; Elven Chain; Buckler, Masterwork; Manacles, Masterwork; Waterskin; Piwafwi; Boots of Elvenkind; Potion of Healing; Potion of Invisibility.

    • Sergeant
      Sshamath Sergeant, Male Drow - Ftr4/Wiz4: CR 8; Medium Humanoid (Elf); HD 4d10+8(Fighter) , 4d4+8(Wizard) ; hp 72; Init +9; Spd 30; AC:19 (Flatfooted:15 Touch:14); Atk +9/4 base melee, +11/6 base ranged; +14/9 (1d8+4+1d6+3, Flame Tongue); +10/5 (1d4+4, Dagger of Venom); +12/7 (1d4, Crossbow, hand, Masterwork); +9/4 (1d3+3, Unarmed strike); +11/6 (, Tanglefoot bag); SA: Poison (Ex) , Spell-like Abilities: Dancing Lights 1/day, Darkness 1/day, Faerie Fire 1/day ; SQ: Immunity: Sleep Effects (Ex), Low-light Vision (Ex), +2 Saves vs. Enchantment Spells and Effects, +2 Will Saves vs. Spells and Spell-like Effects, Light Blindness (Ex), Spell Resistance (Ex): 11 + Class Level (19); AL CE; SV Fort +11, Ref +7, Will +7; STR 16, DEX 20, CON 14, INT 18, WIS 15, CHA 16.
      Skills: Climb +2, Concentration +10, Diplomacy +6, Gather Information +6, Handle Animal +4, Heal +2.5, Hide +9, Intimidate +10, Jump +2, Knowledge (Arcana) +5, Knowledge (Local) +5, Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) +5, Knowledge (Religion) +5, Knowledge (Underdark) +5, Listen +6, Move Silently +9, Search +6, Sense Motive +5, Spellcraft +6, Spot +6, Survival +3, Swim +2.
      Feats: Alertness (Familiar), Armor Proficiency: heavy, Armor Proficiency: light, Armor Proficiency: medium, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Scribe Scroll, Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Tower Shield Proficiency, Weapon Mastery: Longsword.
      Spells Known (Wiz 4/4/3): 0 -- Acid Splash, Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Daze, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Disrupt Undead, Flare, Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Open/Close, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Read Magic, Resistance, Touch of Fatigue; 1st -- Burning Hands, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Expeditious Retreat, Eyes of the Avoral, Feather Fall, Magic Missile, Mount, Ray of Enfeeblement, Shield, Shocking Grasp, Sleep, True Strike; 2nd -- Blur, Command Undead, Daze Monster, Invisibility, Protection from Arrows, See Invisibility, Summon Monster II, Web.
      Possessions: Hand Crossbow, Masterwork; Bolts, crossbow (10); Tanglefoot bag; Dagger of Venom; Flame Tongue; Elven Chain; Manacles, Masterwork; Spell component pouch; Healer`s kit, Masterwork; Antitoxin (vial); Boots of Elvenkind; Piwafwi; Medallion of Thoughts; Potion of Healing x3.
      Familiar, Rat : CR 1/8; Tiny Animal ; HD 8d8; hp 36; Init + 2; Spd 15, Climb 15; AC 18; Atk + 4 base melee, + 10 base ranged; +10 ( 1d3-4, Bite ); SQ: Scent (Ex), Low-light Vision (Ex) ; AL N; SV Fort + 5, Ref + 4, Will + 6; STR 2, DEX 15, CON 10, INT 9, WIS 12, CHA 2. Skills: Balance +10, Climb +10, Concentration +10, Diplomacy +6, Gather Information +6, Heal +2.5, Hide +14, Intimidate +10, Jump +2, Listen +6, Move Silently +10, Search +6, Sense Motive +5, Spot +6, Survival +3, Swim +4. Feats: Weapon Finesse, Improved Evasion. Abilities: Share Spells, Empathic Link, Deliver Touch Spells, Speak with Master, Speak with Rats.

  • Noncitizens
    While the drow of Sshamath hold themselves above all other races, they do cede a modicum of respect to races capable of true wizardry. As such, slaves include only those races deemed incapable of manipulating wizardly magic, such as chitines, goblins, grimlocks, minotaurs, and ogres. Members of these and similar races who can use arcane magic are seen as anomalies or trick ponies rather than indications of wizardly ability for the race. Notable races excluded from slavery (except as slaves of visitors) include elves, humans, svirfneblin, and deep Imaskari. Constructs, conjured creatures, and controlled undead are considered objects, even when capable of wizardry, and have no rights. Races capable of wizardry who reach Sshamath of their own accord as free-willed beings have the right to remain within the city for as long as they obey its laws and conduct ongoing business with residents. Actual citizenship is never granted to nondrow, though permanent residency is allowed so long as business is conducted as mentioned above. This second-class 'ghetto' of humans and Deep Imaskari is never allowed to grow large, but the city recognizes the value of these noncitizens as scapegoats or sacrificial lambs.
    • NOTE: Bards, sorcerers, and the practioners of divine magic are also considered to be of second-class status, though drow of these classes may be actual citizens within the City of Dark Weavings all the same. The dark elves of Sshamath view power that occurs naturally or because of service to another creature as inferior to power won through personal achievement.

  • Miscellaneous Prominent Figures
    • Calimar Arkhenneld
      Calimar (CE male drow lich Enc27), Master Emeritus of the School of Enchantment and Charm, is the premier creator of magical items in Sshamath. Well over thirteen hundred years of age, the Spellbinder has created literally hundreds of unique magical items, many copied from artifacts brought back from the ruins of ancient Netheril. Calimar Arkhenneld cares little for the day-to-day politics of Sshamath, having long ago given his undying heart to serving the will of the Lady of Mysteries (Mystra).

    • Alak Faerzhind
      The Master of Apportation Alak (NE male drow Tra16) is a senior member of the school of Alteration who serves Shurdriira Helviiryn, the Master of Alteration, directly. As Master of Apportation, Alak oversees all forms of magical and nonmagical entry into the city, a position of great influence in the city's power structure. As such, Alak serves as the Conclave's primary emissary to Sememmon and the Zhentarim, allowing him to forge a strong relationship with both the Master of Darkhold and his chief apprentice, Ashemmi. {UPDATE: Sememmon has left Darkhold behind, so this 'relationship' may have changed greatly as of 1372 DR }

    • Nurissa Vyllshan
      The leading proponent of the School of the Shadow Weave, Nurissa (CE female drow Ill 8/Shadow Adept 6) fights tirelessly and ruthlessly for the School's membership on the Conclave.

    • Nym Mlezziir
      Nym (CE male drow F9/W9) is the Battlemaster of the Eastern Grottoes, the senior commander of the caverns and tunnels that include both the ruins fo Oghrann and the Gauth Grottoes. Nym is well known for his skill in battling both nighteyes and dwarves, and he is said to have slain at least two gauth single-handeldy.

    • Arxhadk
      As Arcane Envoy of Olleth, Arxhadk (CE male morkoth W12) represents the interest of the arcanum of Olleth. The Arcanum is a magocratic realm of Seros, known to surface dwellers as the Sea of Fallen Stars. Arxhadk survives among air breathers by dwelling inside a golem-like construct under his direct mental control with the appearance and powers of a massive (24 HD) water elemental. Unknown to the Sshamath drow, the Arcane Envoy's familiar is a slithering tracker. It hides within the bulk of the watery golem or emerges to serve its master as a silent, unseen assassin.

    • Zikthann of the Six Scepters
      One of the Old Ones of the Arcane Brotherhood, Zikthann (LE male human lich W21) now serves as the chief trade representative of the wizards of the Host Tower of the Arcane in Luskan. After the fall of Illusk circa 1244 DR, Zikthann wandered western Faerun for many years. During a foray into the Netherese Caverns, he encountered a Sshamathan drow patrol and followed it home undetected.
      Zikthann has never revealed the exact location of Sshamath to his purported allies, keeping a stranglehold on the flow of new spells and magical items into the Arcane Brotherhood.

Defenses
Like all drow enclaves, Sshamath is well defended by both arms and Art, though perhaps less so than some other cities, as there are no nearby enemies to pose a threat to the city. Only the crafting of the priesthood of Lolth found in many other cities are largely absent. On a citywide scale, each recognized school of magic contributes to Sshamath's defenses, each overseeing a particular aspect or aspects. The continuing struggle between wizards and their schools to outdo one another has created an increasing layer of wards and other arcane defenses, which already makes the city nigh-impregnable to outside attack. The most formidable of these defenses consist of epic spells that harden the stone, lock down the city in a continual Dimensional Anchor, redirect Teleport spells cast by strangers, and cause paralyzing pain to anyone within a 1 mile radius who seriously thinks about attacking the city or its citizens. There are many other examples of the city's arcane defenses, too numerous to list here. The overall effect is not unlike a mythal in many regards, though the overlapping effects are not woven together as with a true mythal, and sometimes these wards and spells may combine or counteract each other unexpectedly. Such instabilities have only been heightened by the deleterious effects of the Guardian's Tear, as discussed in the Temples section below.

Production and Trade
Sshamathan's research and fabricate new spells and magical items. As in any city, a sizable fraction of the population attends to basic necessities, although most goods are brought in by merchants. The bulk of the populace, including most slaves, works to procure spell components and the raw materials for creating magical items, particularly potions and scrolls. Many farm, raise esoteric beasts, and grow exotic plants whose components are in demand by wizards. Others mine far afield for metals, gems, and materials with unusual magical properties. Skilled craftsmen transform base materials into armor, clothing, jewelry, parchment, wands, weapons, and more for enchantment. The ruling wizard caste creates the spells and magical items to be sold in the bazaar.
Few merchants are native to Sshamath, as the city's culture encourages traders from outside to bring their goods in. To the wizards of Sshamath, this arrangement increases personal security and decreases overall risk, albeit at the cost of ceding some of their profits to outside merchants. Merchants based in the City of Dark Weavings typically serve the wizard caste by obtaining raw materials that, for security reasons, the conclave does not wish to acknowledge are in short supply.

  • Guild Halls
    Sshamath's artificers and craftsmen are affiliated with numerous guilds. While many wizards may be affiliated with or members of one of them, the guilds are dominated by skilled laborers who create the basic components on which the wizard's spells are laid. Most guilds associate with multiple schools of wizardry, a practice that is discreetly encouraged by the Conclave to ensure that wizards from rival schools are forced to work together and learn from each other. The halls of the three most prominent guilds are noted below.
    • The Darkfire Pillars
      This guild is a sprawling complex of stalagmites and caves at the southern edge of the city's great cavern. Here the city’s greatest smiths forge blades, bracers, bucklers, chain mail, rings, and other metal suitable for enchantment. This guild hall gains its name for the pillars of ever-burning darkfire that billow from the hollow stalagmite chimneys. Many duergar smiths are indentured servants, sold by their kin for enchanted tools and arms.

    • The Quillspires
      This guild is a large cluster of hollowed stalactites on the roof of the great cavern, northwest of Z'orr'bauth. Herein the city's scribes and lesser magelings labor at recording the minutiae of magical research, as well as inscribing the occasional wizard scroll for sale in the bazaar.

    • The Cage
      The Cage is a cluster of columns on the western edge of the city located in a low-roofed side cavern. Permanent Walls of Force imprison a colony of captive Deepspawn. The Breeder's Guild sells rare, often magical creatures whose component parts are used as spell components or for magical item creation.

  • Shops and Bazaars
    Despite Sshamath's reputation as a city that sells magic, the vast majority of commerce in the city involves spell components and raw materials used to fashion magical items. Prices are not cheap, and merchants are more likely to deal their wares in exchange for a herd of prime deep rothe than the equivalent value in gold. Given difficulty in ferrying necessities to the city, few surface dwellers who reach the City of Dark Weavings are likely to walk away with more than one or two magical items in trade, and then only after an arduous journey to and from the city.
    • The Fountain of Endless Elixirs
      This shop sells all sorts of nonmagical and magical liquids. Virtually any potion or oil a buyer could want is available here for a price.

    • The Genie's Wish
      This shop caters to visitors in search of a particular item, but who lack the wherewithal to do their own business in Sshamath. For a significant, non-refundable handler's fee, the proprietors of the Genie's Wish will endeavor to locate any item the customer desires. If such an item is located, the markup beyond the initial fee doubles the true price at minimum. Gullible customers are often duped into buying cursed or otherwise limited artifacts. Visitors so naive as to ask for help in finding a particular type of shop are almost always directed to this establishment, easily recognizable by its distinctive stalactite home -- sculpted in the form of a Calishite minaret.

    • The Jacinth Rose
      This shop, located at the heart of the Dark Weavings Bazaar, sells cut gems, mostly inset in silver banding. Its proprietors, nobles of the once-powerful House Arabani, specialize in stones particularly prized by the drow, including amaratha, Kara-Turan amethysts, beljurils, balck opals, rich blue diamonds, emeralds, jacinth, jasmal, opals, red orls, ravenar, dark red tears, rudibe, and sapphires. Most jewels have smooth or cabochon cuts, as the drow generally eschew faceted work. Magical items fashioned wholly from gems, such as Gems of Seeing and Ioun Stones, are available on occasion, but the owners are loath to sell such treasures to nondrow.

    • The Dark Weavings Bazaar
      This massive marketplace sits on the cavern floor in eastern Sshamath amid a cluster of small, widely spaced stalagmites. Few stalactites dangle from the ceiling above, creating a relatively open region of the great cavern. Legendary for the magical wares available for sale, Sshamath's Dark Weavings Bazaar is a crowded, noisy marketplace much like those found in the Realms Above. Most of the stalagmites have been hollowed out to serve as market stalls, and nearly anything a wizard could want is available. If it isn't, one or two high-end shops specialize in locating any given object. For an enormous fee, the locators can also send someone out to get it. They sometimes like to hire nondrow adventuring parties for such missions. Other merchants have cultivated towering mushroom groves in the open regions between stalagmites, fashioning living booths of fungi.

  • Inns and Taverns
    • The Great Elixir
      [Excellent Quality/Moderate Prices]
      This is the city's most infamous drinking establishment. Its bartenders are said to be able to make any alcoholic drink served in the Realms Above or Below. Located in a sheared-off stalagmite of Sshamath's great cavern, this tavern is named for the legendary magical drink sought by potion brewers. A pool in the open-air central court is filled by the slow drip of water from a stalactite, and regular patrons often try to convince gullible visitors that the cloudy liquid has magical properties. The guano-tainted brew actually just contains nauseating properties.

    • The Lukhorn's Gullet
      [Excellent Quality/Expensive Prices]
      This is by far the city's largest dining establishment. Located in a massive, hollow column on the southern periphery of the Dark Weaving Bazaar, this tavern and eatery prides itself on catering to any sentient being, regardless of plaate or origin. Diners are seated on ringlike platforms, one atop the next, while drow servers levitate up and down the central shaft delivering food and drink. At least one platform is home to a permanent conflagration catering to flame-dwelling creatures. Two other rings are sealed off by Walls of Force and flooded with water -- saltwater in one, freshwater in the other -- allowing aquatic customers the comfort of their home environment.

    • The Shattered Scepter
      [Fair Quality/Cheap Prices]
      This is an inn of low repute that nonetheless provides reasonable accommodations. Located in western Sshamath, far from the hub of activity, this establishment is fashioned from a massive stalactite that broke loose long ago, fracturing into two massive chunks on impact. The smaller chunk serves as a stable, while the larger holds more than two dozen chambers for paying guests.

    • The Vengeful Weave Inn
      [Excellent Quality/Moderate Prices]

  • Festhalls
    • The Gloura's Wings
      [Good Quality/Expensive Prices]
      This small festhall is located on the western edge of the Bazaar. Unlike Sshamath's more luxurious and decadent houses, this hall achieved some fame in the Lands of Light thanks to a ballad penned by the legendary Mintiper Moonsilver after his one and only visit more than a decade ago. The Gloura's Lament is a soulful hymn inspired by the constant droning song created by the wings of a gloura, described by some adventurers as more beautiful than even siren songs. Mintiper's composition is now widely sung by bards north of Amn and west of the Great Sand Sea. The festhall itself is run by a trio of Underdark faeries who call themselves the Deep Queens. The three glouras are attended by a troupe of beautiful, skilled minstrels and dancers.

    • The Spider's Kiss
      [Good Quality/Moderate Prices]
      This large festhall, located northwest of Z'orr'bauth, caters to drow males, particularly wizards. This establishment is suggestively named for the sport in which drow females kill their lovers after mating (such practices are rare in male-dominated Sshamath). The Spider's Kiss is also known for selling a variety of poisons, including drow sleep poison and the house specialty, a slow-acting lethal contact poison that can be safely smeared on any part of one's own body if the antidote is first ingested.

Other Places of Interest

  • The Stonestave
    This massive stalactite dangles from the cavern roof in southern Sshamath. Shaped to resemble a well-worn wizard's staff, this massive speleothem is hollow, serving as the seat of the city's ruling Conclave. Guarded and warded, this seat of government sees less activity than one might expect, as Sshamath's ruler's prefer to communicate with Sending spells rather than leave their personal abodes.

  • Temples
    Whereas the clery rules most drow enclaves, Sshamath reduces clerics to marginal roles. In many ways, clerics emulate the practices and concerns of the ruling wizard caste. In addition to the faiths discussed below, small sects of Azuth, Mystra, Savras, Velsharoon, and even various members of the Seldarine are known to exist. The latter appear in the guise of previously unknown drow demipowers, without the benefit of true clerics.
    • Tower of the Masked Mage
      The Tower, located in the Darkwoods District, is the seat of Vhaeraun's power within the city. [Refer to link for further details]

    • Web of the Spider Queen
      The Web, located in the northeastern part of the city, is the seat of Lolth's power (or rather, what's left of it) within the city. [Refer to link for further details]

    • The Cult of Malyk
      The Cult of Malyk purports to revere a divine entity whose faith first appeared in the Underdark after the Time of Troubles. Malyk, secretly an aspect of Talos, is said to be the god of wild, evil magic and rebellion. Followers claim that their god was an aged, powerful Sshamathan drow lich who stole some of Mystra's power when he stumbled across a powerful wild magic region in the Underdark beneath Castle Crag. Since the Conclave of Sshamath banned wild magic long ago, wild magic practitioners have chafed under the rule of the city's schools of wizardry.
      Several years after the Fall of the Gods, the Cult of Malyk scored its greatest coup against the Conclave by capturing the Guardian's Tear, a powerful relic created by Helm. This massive king's tear is fashioned from raw magic that spins off "bubbles" of wild and dead magic. When a half dozen wild mages of the Cult of Malyk relocated the Guardian's Tear to Sshamath, chaos predictably ensued. For months, magical research and fabrication were severely disrupted by spheres of wild and dead magic drifting undetected throughout the city.
      Eventually the Conclave of Sshamath, exhibiting rare unanimity, drove the followers of Malyk into the surrounding Underdark along with the Guardian's Tear they had come to revere. Nevertheless, zones of wild and dead magic, while rare, continue to plague the city, sometimes destroying years of effort and research. This has greatly impacted the availability of many items traditionally offered for sale in the Dark Weavings Bazaar. Rumors of the cult's continued activities suggest that the threat has not yet abated.
      At present, the Cult of Malyk is led by a mysterious wizard known only as the Wildstorm (CE male drow WM 19). Seventeen wild mages serve as the sect's clergy. The Shrine of the Weavetear may be found nearly anywhere in the environs of Sshamath, or even in the city itself, as the relic is said to be located wherever the Guardian's Tear hovers and spins.

  • The Darkwoods
    The Darkwoods, located in the southeastern section of the city where the great cavern roof is at its lowest, could almost be considered a side cavern. It is undoubtedly Sshamath's most dangerous district. The worst drow scum dwell amid the tangle of columns, stalactites, and stalagmites that make up this petrified forest. In addition to holding Sshamath's unwanted citizenry, the Darkwoods is also home to several small communities of dark creepers. Introduced long ago by a renegade wizard, the Conclave has been unable (or unwilling) to eliminate this scourge. Although no dark stalkers leaders are believed resident in the city, their lesser kin have long dwelt amid the drow, living off the magical castoffs and stealing magical items whenever the opportunity arises.
    This district is also home to the Tower of the Masked Mage, the center of Vhaeraun's power within the city.

Environs of Sshamath
The environs of Sshamath consist of a maze of tunnels and caverns crudely carved centuries ago when the faerzress first began to fade. Evidence remains of small scale mining activities, unbridled spell experimentation, and old trade routes. The outcast offspring of countless failed breeding experiments and magical transformations haunt the area in small bands, preying on travelers near the city. Most castoffs can be treated as mongrelmen or broken ones, although many exhibit unique powers reflecting their magical ancestry.
Sshamath is relatively isolated, with few immediate rivals. To the west of the city lie the Netherese Caverns, where only the most daring merchants and adventurers tread. To the north lie the expanding tunnels of the thaalud. To the east lie the Gauth Grottoes and the caverns of fallen Oghrann. To the south lie the placid waters of the Giant's Chalice.
  • Gauth Grottoes
    Deep below the western section of the former dwarven kingdom of Oghrann lies a network of caverns known to the drow of Sshamath as the Gauth Grottoes. A small hive of gauth dwell in the played-out delvings of the Stout Folk. The Darkweave Hive consists of less than two hundred beholder-kin led by a gauth version of an elder orb, Xamag the Glamourvore (NE elder orb gauth). Members of the Darkweave Hive prey on merchants traveling to and from Sshamath, feasting on dweomered items and warm-blooded prey.
    Despite centuries of repeated assaults by Sshamathan patrols, the gauth have never been dislodged. The gauth give way when the Sshamathan patrols come hunting, and then they return when the patrols leave. As a result, a great deal of eastern traffic to and from the City of Dark Weavings is forced to pass north beneath the Stonelands or south beneath the headwaters of the River Chionthar. Some believe the hive extended their hunting territories in response; their attacks continue unchecked.

  • Giant's Chalice
    In the lower Underdark, miles beneath the Trader's Road, lies a great subterranean oxbow lake. This brackish water stretches from the southernmost tip of the Lake of Dragons near Pros to Asbravn and then back to the Bridge of Fallen Men. The infrequent appearance of sea elves in these waters lead many to suspect that a flooded passage connects the aquatic kingdom of Naramyr with the upper reaches of the Giant's Chalice. The Alu'Quessir are believed to have reestablished trade relations with the blue ring octopi who dwell within these waters; a handful of radiant coral carvings have been offered for sale in Myth Nantar by visiting elven merchants from Naramyr.
    The sentient mollusks of Suswynfa (the blue ring octopi name for their aquatic realm) have long suffered from a large colony of vampire squids introduced into these waters by the illithids of Oryndoll seeking to extend their writ. Although the blue ring octopi have been greatly reduced in number, the introduction of elven magic has begun to tip the balance of power in their favor. The reasoning behind the lake's more common name has long been forgotten, but a few sages suspect that it is a Shanataran term referring to the giants that once dwelt above.

  • The Netherese Caverns
    When Netheril fell in -339 DR, refugees streamed east, south, and west in a wave of humanity. They established smaller successor realms known as the Netherese survivor states, the most famous of which were Anauria, Asram, and Hlondath. At least one realm was established in the middle Underdark, beneath the plains east of the Wood of Sharp Teeth. The name and fate of this forgotten realm is unrecorded, but architectural remnants survive throughout the region known as the Netherese Caverns.
    The human inhabitants carved cliffside homes into great chasms, fashioning a peaceful tribal culture reminiscent of the Azuposi in the lands to the north of Maztica. While the Netherese Caverns have been looted, rich, hidden tombs still exist. However, something evil haunts these ruins that has grown increasingly powerful in the centuries since its release. It preys upon all who dare to plunder the grottoes of the dead.

  • Oghrann
    Oghrann was the first dwarven realm established in the North by shield dwarf emigrants from Shanatar. At its height, the core caverns of Oghrann encompassed the Tun Plain and the Great Shield, as the mountains encircling it were known. Although folk still find the Sign of the Realm-a curved hunting horn, open to the left, with a six-pointed star above and beneath it-in deep caverns in the Sunset Mountains, few suspect that the bulk of Oghrann lay in the Underdark with surface holdings reserved for livestock. Of the first king Thordbard Firebeard's realm, all that remains in dwarven hands are five ģwellsī in the eastern reaches of the Far Hills, as noted above.
    At the heart of the Tunlands lies the Marsh of Tun, a great freshwater bog that envelops the Tun River downstream of where two major tributaries flow together. While bards spin fanciful tales of a city of glass at the heart of the swamp, none recall that the central cavern of Oghrann, the capital city of Araulurrin, lay directly beneath the Marsh of Tun.

Page Last Updated Feburary 11th, 2006

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